The ECI is also down from a seasonally adjusted 1 percent rise in the previous quarter, the Labor Department reported.
The costs of benefits - such as health insurance and vacations - outpaced gains in wages and salaries, increasing 1 percent in the first quarter. But that was the smallest gain since the third quarter of 2000 and was down from a 1.2 percent increase registered in the fourth quarter of last year.
Compensation costs for state and local government workers increased 0.7 percent during the December 2001-March 2002 period; in the September-December 2001 period, the increase was 0.6 percent. Wages and salaries rose 0.7 percent in the quarter ended in March, identical to the increase of the previous quarter. Benefit costs rose 0.7 percent during the March quarter; in the December quarter, the increase was 0.8 percent.
Compensation costs for all civilian workers (not seasonally adjusted) increased 3.9 percent for the 12 months ended in March 2002. This compares with over-the-year increases of 4.1 percent in March 2001 and 4.3 percent in March 2000.
Compensation costs in private industry rose 3.9 percent in the year ended March 2002, compared with increases of 4.2 percent in March 2001 and 4.6 percent in March 2000.
In state and local government, compensation costs increased 3.9 percent for the year ended March 2002; over-the-year increases were 3.3 percent in March 2001 and 3.6 percent in March 2000.
In private industry, wages and salaries rose 3.5 percent for the year ended March 2002, after increasing 3.8 percent in the year ended March 2001. Benefit costs for private-industry workers increased 4.8 percent for the year ended in March 2002, compared with an increase of 5.0 percent in March 2001.
In private industry, over-the-year compensation cost increases were 4.0 percent for white-collar occupations, 3.6 percent for blue-collar occupations, and 4.3 percent for service occupations. Among the occupational groups, increases in compensation costs ranged from 3.3 percent for professional specialty and technical workers to 4.5 percent for executive, administrative, and managerial employees.
es and benefits rose by 0.8 percent in the first three months of 2002, amounting to the smallest first-quarter growth for the Employment Cost Index in three years, according to the Labor Department.